Number 131. Appomattox Reports of Brigadier General Truman Seymour, U. S. Army, commanding Third Division

   

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in Appomattox Campaign Reports (95)

No. 131. Reports of Brigadier General Truman Seymour, U. S. Army, commanding Third Division.1

HEADQUARTERS THIRD DIVISION, SIXTH ARMY CORPS,
April 17, 1865

MAJOR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of this division in the assault upon the lines of Petersburg, April 2, 1865:

The command was placed in position directly in rear of the old picket-line and in front of Fort Welch. It formed the left of the corps; the Second Brigade, Brevet Brigadier-General Keifer commanding, being on the right of the division, and the First Brigade, Colonel William S. Truex, Fourteenth New Jersey Volunteers, commanding, on the left; each being in three lines. The troops were moved out of camp soon after midnight, and while forming were exposed to a severe and close fire of musketry from the enemy’s picket-line, by which a number of officers and men were slain, but it was borne with great patience, until about 4 o’clock, when the firing of the signal gun from Fort Fisher let loose the corps upon the enemy’s works. The men sprang forward with alacrity, jumped the

picket-line, and pushed steadily forward. They were met by a sharp fire from the enemy’s pickets, which was soon suppressed, and by a heavy enfilading fire of artillery from the left of our point of attack. But the men moved forward with enthusiastic cheers, forced the lines of abatis in front of the rebel works, and mounted the parapet. A hand-to-hand conflict ensued, and not a few gallant officers and men, nobly in advance, were seriously wounded, but the enemy was soon overpowered, and the works were ours. For some moments after the entrance of this division the firing continued on our right, upon the other divisions of the corps.

It is difficult to distinguished from among the many acts of conspicuous gallantry in this assault. The colors of the Tenth Vermont in the First Brigade, and of the Sixth Maryland in the Second, were honorably prominent in the advance of regiments, though they can, nevertheless, be scarcely said to have led. Major Prentiss, commanding the Sixth Maryland, was seriously, if not mortally, wounded while on the very parapet encouraging his command by his chivalric courage.

Agreeably to instructions from Major-General Wright the division was immediately swung to the left, and advanced within and along the works, toward Hatcher’s Run. Serious resistance was offered by a battery in front of the Twenty-fourth Corps position, but several of the guns already captured, served by detachments of the Ninth New York Artillery, under Major William Wood and Brevet Major Lamoreaux, were promptly turned upon the enemy. Major Cowan’s battery came into position, a portion of the division advanced, and the battery fell [back]. In succession the whole line nearly to Hatcher’s Run was swept by the division, some twenty odd guns and many hundred prisoners with four flags, falling into our possession.

It is proper to add that the rebel Lieutenant General A. P. Hill was shot toward the right of the line by Corporal Mauk, One hundred and thirty-eighth Pennsylvania Volunteers, while with a small party returning from tearing up the South Side Railroad.

The brigade commanders, Bvt. Brigadier General J. Warren Keifer and Colonel William S. Truex, are highly commended for constant energy and skill in the management of their brigades. Their reports are inclosed, and to them I must refer for mention of the distinguished gallantry with which many of their officers and men conducted themselves.

To the division staff I am under special obligations for assistance rendered during this engagement, and I take pleasure in naming Bvt. Major Andrew J. Smith, acting assistant adjutant-general; Captain E. S. Norvell, pioneer officer, and Lieutenant S. H. Lewis, acting aide-de-camp, for more than ordinary good conduct; while to Bvt. Major O. V. Tracy, division inspector; Bvt. Major J. C. Robinson, Captain G. A. Earnshaw, and Lieutenant R. N. Verplanck aides-de-camp, my thanks are also especially due.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

T. SEYMOUR,
Brigadier-General, Commanding.

Major C. H. WHITTELSEY,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Sixth Army Corps.

HEADQUARTERS THIRD DIVISION, SIXTH ARMY CORPS,
April 15, 1865.

MAJOR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of this command on April 6, at Sailor’s Creek:

The division was in the advance on the march during that day, the Second Brigade, leading. A severe day’s march had already been accomplished and the men were much fatigued, when at 3 p.m. the head of the column arrived at the point near Amelia Springs, where Major-General Sheridan with a force of cavalry was menacing the flank of the enemy’s line of retreat. The sharpshooters of the Second Brigade, and the One hundred and twenty-second Ohio, were immediately deployed and advanced to the attack, followed by the remainder of the brigade upon its arrival. The road by which the enemy was retiring was seized cutting off numerous wagons. A portion of the enemy withdrew by a cross-road leading toward the Appomattox, and commenced from two guns a severe and close fire of canister upon our advancing troops; but the skirmishers already named, supported by the One hundred and tenth Ohio and Ninth New York Artillery, pursued them promptly and soon drove them from before us. The remaining regiments of Keifer’s brigade (Sixth Maryland, Sixty-seventh and

One hundred and thirty-eighth Pennsylvania), in conjunction with the First Brigade, were pushed immediately to the left upon the main route. Severe skirmishing ensued but supported by Carroll’s section of Brinckle’s battery, E, Fifth U. S. Artillery the enemy were forced a mile across Sailor’s Creek, behind which he formed a strong line of battle to oppose our crossing. That portion of Keifer’s brigade that had been sent on the cross-road found itself in front of the Second Corps, and it was reported to me that the staff officers who were sent to recall it were refused; at all events, it took no further part in this action. The remainder, with Truex’s brigade, were formed in line. Wheaton’s division came upon on the left and an advance was ordered by Major-General Wright. The stream in front of us was edged with marsh waist deep; through this the command handsomely advanced. Brinckle’s battery played unceasingly upon the rebel lines, which, however, returned but little fire until pressed by our infantry. The contest was then very severe. The Confederate Marine Battalion fought with peculiar obstinacy, and our lines, somewhat disordered by crossing the creek, were repulsed in the first onset. But the valor of the commanding officers brought them again to the attack, and Truex’s brigade somewhat overlapping the enemy’s line, and wheeling to the left, delivered so severe an enfilading fire as soon made resistance impossible.

Lieutenant-General Ewell sent Major Pegram of his staff, with a flag to surrender his forces to this brigade. The commander of the Marine Battalion surrendered to Brevet Brigadier-General Keifer, whose command captured also two battle-flags.

The magnificent behavior of the troops deserves the highest commendation. Brevet Brigadier-General Keifer and Colonel Truex, the brigade commanders, again displayed the highest soldierly qualities, and by their promptness and skill contributed greatly to the success of the day. Bvt. Major A. J. Smith, my acting assistant adjutant-general, was severely wounded while gallantly performing his duties as a staff officer, and to him and the members of the division staff I am indebted for able and energetic assistance. The brigade commanders have in their reports handsomely mentioned many whose services cannot be sufficiently well acknowledge in this report. Lieutenant Brinckle, commanding Battery E, Fifth U. S. Artillery, and Lieutenant C. H. Carroll deserve honorable mention for the efficiency of the artillery under their command.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

T. SEYMOUR,
Brigadier-General, Commanding.

Major C. H. WHITTELSEY
Assistant Adjutant-General, Sixth Corps.

ADDENDA.
HEADQUARTERS THIRD DIVISION, SIXTH CORPS,
April 3, 1865.

Major C. H. WHITTELSEY,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Sixth Army Corps:

MAJOR: In compliance with orders from Sixth Corps headquarters of this date, I have the honor to forward four battle-flags. The following are the names of the captors; Corpl. F. M. McMillen, Company C, and Private Isaac James, Company H, One hundred and tenth Ohio Volunteers; Private Milton Blickensderfer, Company E, One hundred

and twenty-sixth Ohio Volunteers; Private George Loyd, Company A, One hundred and twenty-second Ohio Volunteers (division battle-flag of General Heth.)*

I am, major, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

T. SEYMOUR,
Brigadier-General, Commanding.

HEADQUARTERS THIRD DIVISION, SIXTH ARMY CORPS,
April 7, 1865

Major C. H. WHITTELSEY,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Sixth Army Corps:

MAJOR: I have the honor to report that the following-named enlisted men captured each a battle-flag from the enemy on the 6th instant:

Corpl. John Keough, Company E, Sixty-seventh Pennsylvania Volunteers, and Corpl. Trustrim Connell, Company I, One hundred and thirty-eighth Pennsylvania Volunteers. The flags have been forwarded to your headquarters.*

I am, major, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

T. SEYMOUR,
Brigadier-General, Commanding.

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*Medal of Honor awarded to each of the men named.

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Source:

  1. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Volume XLVI, Part 1 (Serial Number 95), pp. 978-981

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